Friday, March 09, 2012
Panetta talks diplomacy while Obama offers to arm Israel to bomb Iran after the November elections
by Larry Geller
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in town, so the newspaper put this important story in the Local section: Give sanctions time, Panetta says (Star-Advertiser, 3/9/2012). Behind their paywall they quote Panetta:
"We've made very clear we're going to prevent (Iran) from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and we are also going to ensure that they do not close the Strait of Hormuz," Panetta said Thursday in a briefing with reporters at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
"(But) we think the sanctions are working. We think that diplomacy and holding the international community together in applying that pressure needs to continue — and that's the right way to go right now," he said. "We hope that Israel will continue to be part of that international effort."
What Panetta didn’t say was revealed in a short Democracy Now headline this morning: the US is offering to arm Israel to attack Iran as long as they do it after the November elections.
The Obama administration has reportedly offered Israel upgraded military weaponry in exchange for delaying an attack on Iran until next year, after the November elections. The Israeli newspaper Maariv reports the deal was presented to Israel during President Obama’s talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week. The U.S. offer reportedly included advanced bunker-busting bombs and long-range refueling planes. The bombs in question are said to be more powerful than Israel’s current arsenal of bunker-busting weapons, granting Israel additional capability to strike Iranian facilities below ground. According to Reuters, an Israeli official confirmed Thursday that Israel has made a request for bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes from the United States. Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Soltanieh, called for Israel to be sanctioned at the United Nations for making threats against Iran.
Ali Soltanieh: "Israel is continuously violating [Resolution 533] and therefore violating [the] United Nations charter, and according to that resolution in fact the United Nations Security Council has to immediately act upon, condemning Israel and work on this matter [Israel’s threat of attack] to prevent escalation, threatening and threat of attack."
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I believe there is some basis to this report, but I suspect it deals with one part of a complicated dance. It strikes me as credible the US government would insist any Israeli attack be postponed until after the election. Foreign Affairs journal has an interesting article on how the matter is seen within Israeli foreign policy circles. I believe there is a consensus that an attack by Israel is reasonable and the resulting conflict can be "contained." Some Israelis see this as an opportunity to further attack Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinians. In that memorable Israeli phrase, "to create facts on the ground."
During his campaign, Obama needs to re-inspire those who voted for him in 2008. Or at least, to keep us from abandoning him. So he is sounding progressive on more issues. Where the Democratic Party was once solidly uncritical of Israel, that is no longer true among the base. The "commanding heights" of the DNC and the Congressional leadership remain under the domination of AIPAC. Americans are also war-weary. Drumbeats for war against Iran and/or Syria do not stir enthusiasm in the hearts of voters.
I believe it is in our interests for Iran to become a more liberal society. But US policy has been designed to prevent that from happening. Iran society has always had a liberalizing current within it, but it grows and shrinks, depending upon circumstances. When the country is threatened with attack from outside, the people rally around the nation and the regime in power has more latitude in suppressing internal dissent with public approval. Or, at least, acquiesence.
If the USG truly wanted to encourage liberalization in Iran, we would engage in trust-building ventures rather than demonizing them. After the September 11 attacks, the Iranians help the United States in its attacks on -Al Qaida and the Taliban. Bush responded to this opening by labelling them part of the "Axis of Evil," suggesting they were on the short list of mortal enemies of this country.
The US government is likely to have warships in close support of any Israeli attack, with aircraft carriers standing by at the ready in the Persian Gulf. The pretense is we will be there to ensure "open sea lanes” on behalf of the world. But why would the Iranians NOT see our ships as being there to back up the Israeli attack? Why would our ships NOT be a legitimate target for the Iranian navy in the event of an Israeli attack?
If we remember the Tonkin Gulf Incident(s), the US Navy was engaged in covert aggressive military actions against North Vietnam when they allegedly got into skirmish with Vietnamese patrol boats. This became the pretext for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which was the closest Congress came to declaring war on Vietnam. And led to the deaths of over 55,000 American service-members and MILLIONS of Southeast Asians.
Panetta's claims about the mission being to keep the Straights of Hormuz open by placing US Warships in an advanced position must be seen as aggressive and, maybe even, part of a provocation designed to create an excuse for a US military strike in support of Israel. And if the Iranians do not cooperate by attacking a US ship, I would not be surprised if one could be arranged by US or Israeli intelligence.
Between now and November, expect Obama is present himself as reluctant to use military force, except as a "last option" if "forced to do so." The Israeli hardliners are hoping to take advantage of the crisis in Syria to launch an attack on Iran. Both Iran and Hezbollah are being weakened by the crisis of the Assad regime. Should Assad recover control, or a new regime unfavorable to Israel emerge in Syria, the most favorable window of opportunity will have passed for an attack. Given that the crisis in Syria appears to be deepening, this may reduce pressure on Israel to strike immediately. "After November" might work fine for Netanyahu and Ehud Barack, as well as Obama.
According to the National Intellegence Estimate Iran is not pursuing the building of a nuclear bomb. The National Intellegence Estimate is the culmination of our sixteen intellegence agencies. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/world/middleeast/us-agencies-see-no-move-by-iran-to-build-a-bomb.html?_r=1...................I see two outcomes as the result of Israel threating to bomb Iran. Israel will be sending bunker busting bombs into Iran destroying all of Iran's movie theaters or this threat will cause Iran to actually build a nuclear bomb to ward off an attack from Israel.
Old Diver, your comment that the threat will cause Iran to actually build a bomb was similar to something said on Democracy Now a couple of days ago (I can't remember by whom).
Maybe Panetta understands this. Certainly, all this talk of attacking Iran must cause them to check their powder to make sure it's dry.
Also, watch out for false-flag attacks, a common tactic to start a war.
The reason I will not vote for Obama or anyone who continues to support war. Israel is a pox on peace and it has nuclear weapons and, of course, the U.S. used the bomb against Japan, and itself is a pox on peace! SUCH a lot of HYPOCRISY!BUT at least there is discussion...
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